Monthly Archives: September 2015

So Much to Do…

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There is so much to do and so little time left before I leave on Monday. I know I will get it done in time and be prepared, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not a little frantic right now. This is going to be a short post because I wrote this last night, and I wanted to go to sleep and not worry about all the things that I still need to do.

Also, this is a sad day.  Not only is the anniversary of 9/11, but also because a year ago, I lost my precious HRH, my cat Victoria.  I have two wonderful new cats who are just over a year old, but Victoria and I had a special bond.  We’d been together for 16 years, and I still miss her terribly.


Gaydar

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I saw this on HuffPost Gay Voices and found it pretty interesting.

Is Gaydar Real?
By Rebecca Adams

Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background

Whether or not “gaydar” — a supposed intuitive ability to identify gay people — is real, many people believe it’s possible to tell someone’s sexual orientation just by looking at them. The problem is, research (and anecdotal evidence) has found that gaydar tends to rely on stereotypical attributes — like the way someone dresses or how they style their hair — that don’t actually tell you anything about who someone’s attracted to. Gaydar, therefore, seems to legitimize these stereotypical myths, something that’s been shown to lead to prejudice and oppression. Unlike other forms of stereotypes, however, gaydar has seeped it’s way into popular culture, and it’s considered relatively harmless and socially acceptable.

In a new five-part study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison set out to see if what they refer to as “the gaydar myth” is as “harmless” as some people may think or if it’s just a veiled method of perpetuating gay stereotypes.

The Setup

In the first study, participants looked at pictures of 55 gay men and 50 straight men’s faces selected from an online dating site. Each photo was rated for overall quality, from “very poor” to “excellent,” by a set of student raters before the study. Then, the researchers randomly paired the photos with a supposed descriptive statement about the person that was either gay-stereotypic (“He likes shopping.”), stereotype-neutral (“He likes to read.”) or straight-stereotypic (“He likes football.”). These weren’t actually applicable to the men in the photos, but participants didn’t know that. They were then instructed to determine whether or not the man in the photo was gay. For the second study, the researchers repeated the first study, but this time they only chose photos that were rated highest in quality from both the straight and gay men groups of photos.

Both the first and second studies found that when participants were given stereotypically gay personal statements with photos, they were much more likely to guess that the man in the photo was gay. Meaning: The pictures didn’t matter nearly as much as the stereotypes did.

The third study had participants categorize the same gay and straight men’s pictures without the accompanying stereotypic statements. The researchers found that people were more likely to assume men in higher quality photos were gay — they seemingly assumed gay men would take better photos. The fourth study replicated the third with women’s photos instead of men’s to see if the same was true for lesbians. Participants were unable to gauge sexual orientation simply by looking at a person’s face.

Finally, the researchers did their fifth study to determine whether or not gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth for these stereotypes. They gathered 233 undergraduate participants and divided them into three groups: one that would be told that gaydar is stereotyping, one that would be told that gaydar is real and one that would be given no information regarding gaydar. Participants then completed a modified version of the first study, using the same pictures and statements. This time, however, participants could refrain from guessing the person’s sexual orientation if they wanted.

The Findings

In the final study, participants’ answers depended on which group they were in. Those in the “gaydar is real” group tended to believe in gaydar more than the other groups, and people in the “gaydar is stereotyping” group believed in it less than the control group. In this final version of the study, it was easy to see that people didn’t assign sexual orientation simply because they were forced to choose — participants had a “no idea” option, yet they chose it “very infrequently,” according to the study.

As the researchers put it: “The evidence provided in Study 5 indicates that the folk concept of gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth, promoting stereotyping to infer orientation by giving that stereotyping process the alternate label of ‘gaydar.'” Basically, when people slap on a euphemism for stereotyping — in this case, “gaydar” — they feel free to judge groups of people by very limited parameters which legitimize societal myths. These findings build on past research about how stereotypes that seem plausible will likely lead to inaccurate assumptions.

The Takeaway

Taken at face value, the concept of gaydar may not seem like such a big deal, but there’s one big problem with stereotyping: It often leads to inaccurate conclusions. The researchers put it in terms of the “gay men like shopping” trope. If people assume gay men like shopping, that doesn’t mean that all men who like shopping are gay (or that all gay men like shopping). Not to mention, if gay men make up 1.8 percent of the male population in America, even if they’re ten times more likely to enjoy shopping, men who like shopping are still more likely to be straight — there are simply more men who identify as straight out there.

Perhaps the researchers put it best: “Whether people fit or violate their group’s stereotypes is immaterial to their value — we would hope that, rather than being judged or pressured based on the existence of a stereotype, people can be treated as individuals and judged on their own merit.” Amen.

The Closet Professor’s Conclusion

It seems to me that the study has two major flaws. First, it assumes that gaydar is purely visual and can be determined by a picture of a face. When my “gaydar” goes off, it’s more than just a picture of a face. It has to do with how he moves, how he talks, and basically, how he carries himself. The most sure fire way is to watch his eyes. If a hot guy walks by and his eyes follow, then he is probably gay, but if a hot girl walks by and his eyes follow her, then he is probably straight. You have to watch the eyes though, because head movements can be misleading, especially for someone in the closet.

Second, the study assumes that gaydar is something that heterosexual men possess. While I do think that some women possess gaydar, most straight men do not. Heterosexual men often use all kinds of bad stereotypes to identify gay men; however, gay men and some women use more subtle stereotypes to identify gay men. I do not dispute that a large part of gaydar is stereotyping, but I think gay men tend to be more careful with stereotyping and are more intuitive. Many gay men were stereotyped before they came out, so they aren’t as quick to judge others unfairly. That being said, I will postulate that wishful thinking does occasionally interferes with gaydar.

Finally, I think gaydar is possibly an evolutionary characteristic. Gay men have always existed, but we had to find one another. Historically, if a gay man hit on the wrong man, i.e. a straight man, then he might not survive the attempt. Therefore, I think along with the genetic code that makes us gay, we also have the ability to find one another. Then again, gaydar could be a complete myth built on stereotypes, but I think it is very real, some people just have better gaydar than others. I tend to think mine is pretty good.


A Non-Post Post

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I told a friend of mine that my post today would be a “non-post post.” He asked “What’s that?” I said that it was a post about how I really didn’t have anything to talk about and then I just talk about what’s on my mind. Honestly, last night I got into watching Ken Burns’ Civil War on PBS, and didn’t realize that it didn’t go off until 10:30, which is too late to really start a post, especially when I had no idea what to write about.

By the way, I love listening to Shelby Foote talk. He has that southern drawl that one rarely finds outside of Alabama’s Black Belt region or Mississippi’s Delta region. Not only does he have a great southern accent, but he also has that dry wit of a great southern storyteller. Every so often he has a hard time telling a story without cracking up, but he gets out the story and then gives a small smile before looking down to compose himself. So, I got drawn into watching that and just didn’t even think about what I’d post today. Lots of things running through my mind though.

I still can’t believe that I am being flown up for an interview next week. There is a lot to do between now and then, and the closer it gets the more nervous I get. However, I plan to be my charming and intelligent self, and I will win them over, or hopefully cement the idea that I am the job candidate they want. Let’s see, I have to conduct an interview so that they will have a sample, since I can’t get ahold of any of my former interviews. I need to pick up my suits from the cleaners. Get a Xanax prescription for the flight (flying causes me to have anxiety attacks). Pack. Oh, and yeah, I need to review over what I’ve already prepared for interview material and think of all the things that could come up in a conversation in the two days I will be with these people. And of course, pray, pray, pray that I will show dignity and grace and not slip up and make a fool of myself. Sadly, I’m often better at the later than the former.

Once I get the job, the worrying will not be over. Then I will have to find a place to live. Get things packed quickly and ready to move. Then make the long journey north. If I get this job, the rest of this month will be a flurry of activity. I’ll be so busy, I won’t have time to worry about all the things I have to worry about. Make lists, that’s what I will do, make lots of lists. I’m sure there are other things that I haven’t thought of yet. Of course this last part might be jumping the gun a little bit, but if I do get the job, at least I will be slightly prepared to move and get started.

 

 

Don’t you think that the hay he is laying on would be awfully itchy to his naked privates?  I’ve always found hay to be very itchy.  Poor guy, he’s probably very uncomfortable.  I hope they had a hidden blanket underneath him.


The Song of the Chattahoochee

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The Song Of The Chattahoochee
Sidney Lanier, 1842 – 1881

Out of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry amain to reach the plain,
Run the rapid and leap the fall,
Split at the rock and together again,
Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,
And flee from folly on every side
With a lover’s pain to attain the plain
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall.

All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
The rushes cried ‘Abide, abide,’
The willful waterweeds held me thrall,
The laving laurel turned my tide,
The ferns and the fondling grass said ‘Stay,’
The dewberry dipped for to work delay,
And the little reeds sighed ‘Abide, abide,
Here in the hills of Habersham,
Here in the valleys of Hall.’

High o’er the hills of Habersham,
Veiling the valleys of Hall,
The hickory told me manifold
Fair tales of shade, the poplar tall
Wrought me her shadowy self to hold,
The chestnut, the oak, the walnut, the pine,
Overleaning, with flickering meaning and sign,
Said, ‘Pass not, so cold, these manifold
Deep shades of the hills of Habersham,
These glades in the valleys of Hall.’

And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the smooth brook-stone
Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl,
And many a luminous jewel lone
— Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist,
Ruby, garnet and amethyst —
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone
In the clefts of the hills of Habersham,
In the beds of the valleys of Hall.

But oh, not the hills of Habersham,
And oh, not the valleys of Hall
Avail: I am fain for to water the plain.
Downward the voices of Duty call —
Downward, to toil and be mixed with the main,
The dry fields burn, and the mills are to turn,
And a myriad flowers mortally yearn,
And the lordly main from beyond the plain
Calls o’er the hills of Habersham,
Calls through the valleys of Hall.

Sidney Lanier composed “Song of the Chattahoochee” in November 1877 for a small paper in West Point, Georgia; nonetheless, at the time he considered it the best poem he had ever written, and critics have generally agreed that it is one of his finer efforts. Originally from Macon, Georgia, Lanier travelled much in Georgia, Maryland, Florida, and North Carolina for employment and for his health. He fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and was eventually captured by Union troops. He spent the rest of the war in prison, where he relieved his own sufferings and those of his fellow prisoners with melodious tunes on the flute he had taught himself to play when he was younger. But unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis, and he spent the rest of his life trying unsuccessfully to restore himself to good health. These circumstances—travel, flute-playing, military discipline, and a keen awareness of his own mortality—may account for the major elements of his poetry: nature, music, moral duty, and religion. Lanier was able to see much of the South’s natural beauty, and he found much religious and spiritual significance in it. As a poet, he is regarded as a minor writer in American literature whose prime contribution was to lyrical or musical poetry in the tradition of the American poet Edgar Allan Poe and the English poet Alfred Tennyson. “Song of the Chattahoochee” is primarily a musical poem whose words flow very much like the river that is its speaker. The river’s aim is to do its duty, answering the call of God.

The Chattahoochee River rises in what used to be Habersham County, Georgia. The county, originally comprised much of Northeast Georgia, was cut up dramatically in the latter half of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th Century. The “valley of Halls,” which refers to where the Chattahoochee flows through Hall County, Georgia, became Lake Sydney Lanier in 1953 with the damming of the Chattahoochee River.

I have always loved this poem, but it also always brings to mind the Alan Jackson song “Chattahoochee .”  Every time I think of the Chattahoochee River, I think of this lady I used to work with, who always turned red when this song came on.  It only took the opening stanza:

Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee
It gets hotter than a hoochie coochie
We laid rubber on the Georgia asphalt
We got a little crazy but we never got caught

You’re probably wondering why would that cause her to get embarrassed.  With her daughter, she had always used “coochie” as her word for a woman’s lady parts (Southern women just won’t call it what it is.  I know one that refers to it as a squirrel.). So when this song first came on, her daughter was very confused by the line “It gets hotter than a hoochie coochie.”  Most people seem to think that “hoochie coochie” refers to a hoochie, or sexually provocative woman, and a coochie, just what my old coworker had told her daughter.  In fact, this is not what it means at all.  It means a sexually provocative belly dance that originated at a Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876. And while some may think that Jackson was referring to the former and not the latter, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he used “hoochie coochie” because it was a phrase he had heard before and it rhymed nicely with Chattahoochee. It still makes me laugh though.


I Never Knew You


I haven’t really talked about Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses, but the news media has latched on to this case and won’t let go. I still believe that they should put Alabama Probate Judges who refuse to issue marriage licenses in the hot seat as well, and don’t forget that there are two other Kentucky clerks doing the same thing. The focus/showdown has centered around Kim Davis, probably the worst choice gay marriage opponents could have chosen.

Kim Davis is a hypocrite and a bigot, plain and simple, which is something I find to be absolutely abhorrent. I don’t think that is all she is. I agree with what Bruce Bartlett, former domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and Treasury official under George H. W. Bush, said in the Washington Post:

The Davis story looks to me less like genuine anxiety than the way powerful groups use people like her for their own agenda. I gather that her lawyers have a history of inventing ridiculous defenses for not following the law. I imagine there are people raising a lot of money off her. When she has served her purpose, she will be tossed aside like a used tissue and forgotten.

At some point, I believe that it will come out that she is being paid by others to be this “martyr for religious freedom” that she seems to think she is becoming. I personally think that the judge made a mistake by putting her in jail. He should have levied large fines against her, Rowan County, and the State of Kentucky. If the fines had been large enough the governor would have been forced to call a special legislative session to impeach her.

When Roy Moore was Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court the first time, he installed the ugly as sin and highly unconstitutional “10 Commandments Monument” in the Alabama Judicial Building. In that case, when he refused to remove the monstrosity, a judge levied fines against him and the State of Alabama for contempt of court. The Alabama Court of Judiciary quickly convened and removed him from office. A new Chief Justice was appointed and the monument was removed.

I had hoped Moore would make a similar stand against gay marriage so we could be rid of him once and for all, but they, whoever “they” turn out to be, found and are using Kim Davis instead. However, they weren’t as smart as the the Civil Rights Movement was with Rosa Parks. The Montgomery NAACP had several women who had refused to give up their seats, but Rosa Parks was the one chosen to take the stand that sparked the Civil Rights Movement because she had a spotless record. She was a hard worker, she was happily married, and she faithfully attended church. When whoever it was found Kim Davis, they forgot the full passage of what Jesus says about marriage in Matthew 19: 3-9:

Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

When asked about this, Davis’ attorney said that Davis acknowledged she had made “major mistakes” in the past. “She’s regretful and sorrowful,” her attorney Mat Staver said, according to the AP. “That life she led before is not the life she lives now. She asked for and received forgiveness and grace. That’s why she has such a strong conscience.” However, a lifestyle of sin is what she is living, because she is still married to her 2nd/4th husband and continues to live in sin.

This situation reminds me of something my preacher said yesterday. He said that people make fun of Christians all the time. He said that every other group that could be ridiculed is not because it is not politically correct, yet it seems acceptable to ridicule Christians. You do not know how badly I wanted to stand up and say, “Christian hypocrites are ridiculed, not true Christians. It is the ones who belittle and judge others, while they commit even greater sins that are ridiculed.” Christians often forget the words of Christ, especially John 8:7 “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”

So people like Kim Davis are no better than the Pharisees. They worship the law (really only parts of the law) and do not worship God and the spirit of His word. She is a reprehensible woman who when the Judgement Day comes, I think that Kim Davis and those like her may find that these words from Matthew 7:21-23 might apply to them:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

And since it is Labor Day, here’s a little Labor Day picture for you.

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Our Cups of Joy and Sorrow 

  

“Rejoice in the Lord always, And again I say, Rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4

That text is often quoted, but I notice that in many cases it is much misunderstood. The text is sometimes used to make people feel guilty who are downhearted, sorrowful, grieving, depressed —as if they need that burden of guilt on top of their other unhappiness! This passage certainly does say we should rejoice always. However it does not say we should rejoice only. This verse does not forbid sorrow. If it did, then it would condemn Jesus, because he was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

While God gives us many reasons for joy, he does not yet wipe away every tear or take away every pain. That will not happen until we reach heaven “and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall no longer be any death, or mourning, or crying, or pain…” (Revelation 21:4).

The knowledge expressed in that verse (Revelation 21:4) gives us very mixed feelings when we have sorrows. Those confusing mixed feelings are perfectly proper and normal. Otherwise why would Peter speak of joy “inexpressible”, and Paul of groanings “too deep for words”? (1 Peter 1:8, Romans 8:26).

There is an idea that joy and sorrow are mutually exclusive and that if you are feeling sorrow there is something wrong with your joy and it is less than full. On the other hand if your sorrow is somewhat mitigated by your joy, and you “do not grieve like those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13), people think that there is something wrong with you psychologically or that you are not a genuine person. The reason for such misunderstandings is that people think you only have one cup, and if that cup is full of joy then there is no room for sorrowing, or if that cup is full of sorrow then there is no room for joy. But really you have two cups. One is a cup of joy, and that cup should always be full and overflowing in Christ. The other is a cup of sorrow, and from time to time in this life it can be anywhere from empty to overflowing. We all hold these two cups while we are in this world.

No matter what sorrows we suffer, our cup of joy can still be always full. One of the passages we mentioned before says, “Though you have not seen Jesus Christ, you love him, and though you do not see him now, but believe in him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Now this is true for the firm believer no matter what sorrow or misery might come the believer’s way.

This week, we lost our friend Jay, and we have every reason to be sorrowful. Yet we can’t stop believing in Jesus or loving him, nor can we do so any less for our sorrow. Therefore, while we have great sorrow, we also retain all our joy in Jesus, and that faith, love, and joy, helps us immensely to cope with our great sorrow.

This week has been a very emotional week. Usually when someone says that, they mean that it has been a bad week. They usually only mean that it has been a week of sorrowful emotions. In my case, I mean that there were many different emotions. The week began with intense emotions of worry. I had already heard from Jay that he was contemplating ending his life. I worried for my friend. I was also anxious to hear the results of my phone interview from the week before. Anxiety brings forth the emotions of fear and doubt. Occasionally, I could overcome it by telling myself that the interview went well and I had to be patient. Then the news came that we had lost Jay, and I was filled with intense sorrow. When I received the call from the interview asking me to come up for an onsite visit, I was ecstatic. I was so happy and so thrilled. I’d made it past another hurdle. Once the initial excitement and joy subsided a bit, I was getting mixed emotions from all of my friends and family. Some were just so very happy that I had this opportunity, some had mixed emotions about the possibility of me moving. Needless to say, it has been an emotion filled week.

There is both sorrow and joy in this world, and both cups together can be full to overflowing. However, if we are in Christ, the joy will be everlasting whilst the sorrow will be only temporary. So our cup of joy in Jesus Christ will one day break our cup of sorrows in this world. Just as the joy of Jesus overcame his sorrows and suffering (Acts 2:24-28), so will it overcome ours and “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

Therefore we endure trials, and we overcome (1Pet 4:12-16, Romans 8:35-39). We just have to believe that God will bring us through those times of grief and will lead us to times of joy. Remember what Jesus told his disciples before the crucifixion, “You will weep and lament… but your grief will be turned into joy” (John 16:20-22).


Moment of Zen: Sexy Selfies 

And here’s a bonus picture since today begins the college football season.  GO GOLD!!!!


Update

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I talked to the museum director the morning. I did find out that I was not the only person they were bringing up, so there is still work to be done in the prayer department. I need to sharpen my interview skills, but I gather that this will be a more informal interview. I’m disappointed to find out that others are still being considered but that was also expected as a possibility. I’m excited about all the other possibilities of this job though. The pay is good, the benefits are spectacular, and location is close to ideal. The job will be in New England, though I don’t want to say yet which state. I will let you know the state when I have more definitive news. If all works out and I do get the job, I know I’ll freeze my balls off this winter, but I’m looking forward to a real winter, and the autumn colors are supposed to be truly awesome there.

Please keep your fingers crossed and your prayers going.


Drumroll Please…

  

The job that I have been praying about and that many of you have been praying with me about…Well, they called and left a message yesterday and want to fly me up a week from Tuesday. I hate that I wasn’t home to receive the call, because I had some questions, but I was working at my volunteer job. They didn’t come out and say I had the job, but they had made it clear before that they would only be bringing one person up for an onsite visit. I have a few things to iron out with them this morning, but I should know in a few hours if it’s a done deal or not. So check back this afternoon for an update.


Goodbye, Jay

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In the early morning hours yesterday, Tray Murphy, who we all knew as Jay on this blog, took his own life. Jay had felt that the problems he was facing were insurmountable. I will not elaborate because I don’t think it’s fair to Jay, but I will never believe that the cause of his problems were real. That being said, I know it caused major problems in Jay’s life. Problems he could not deal with. It broke my heart, and I have shed many tears since I heard the news.

I have known Jay since the beginning of this blog. For over five years, he commented almost everyday. (He always commented on the Blogger version). He even commented on the poetry, which few people ever do. Jay was not only a blog reader but a true friend. I always knew that if I found myself in Virginia, I had a place to stay, and I had a friend who’d welcome me with open arms. Jay was kind and loving. He always had a kind word and was always supportive.

Jay felt at the end that even God had deserted him. I tried to make him understand that God never deserts us. I just pray that God will help his family get through this tragedy.

Though Jay won’t be able to read this, he would want to know that we loved him, cared about him, and he will be missed so very much.

Goodbye, Jay. We love you. We will always miss you.

Peace ❤
Joe